News Article

Dec: Powder Handling Innovation for Multisector Processes

By Miriam Bello | Fri, 07/16/2021 - 15:34

With over 30 years of experience, Switzerland’s Dietrich Engineering Consultants (Dec) offers innovative solutions in powder handling and process containment, including transfer, micronizing, filling/emptying, sampling, blending, dosing, aseptic solutions, milling, isolators and advanced cleaning (CIP/SIP) features. Its in-house technology development has made it the leading global provider of powder handling and process containment systems for the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and cosmetics industries.

Pharmaceutical and Chemical Powder Micronization

Powder micronization is a process that reduces the particle size of a material, which is often performed using fluid mechanical mills. These mills, however, face common pitfalls, including cleaning issues and heat generation. Mechanical mills also have a high-particle lower-size limit of 40 μm. These problems can be controlled with Dec’s MC MC DecJet® fluid energy mills.

Dec is a pioneer in spiral jet milling that has addressed particle-size reduction by collision since the 1960s. The company continuously developed its technology over the next decades, leading to today’s high-performance fourth-generation jet mills that are now used in many industries, notably in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors.

Mechanical mills are usually the first technologies considered by pharmaceuticals, cosmetics or sanitary materials manufacturers when evaluating particle-size reduction. Well-designed, high-speed mechanical mills can grind friable materials to a low-micron size.

Dec’s new fourth-generation MC DecJet® range, developed with Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis, is revolutionizing existing micronizing procedures through improved geometry of the grinding chambers and ring integrated nozzles, which allow companies to obtain powders with very low particle-size distribution (PSD) of about 1 μm (Gaussian curve).

Moreover, micronizing isolators provide full containment of highly active and/or sterile compounds offering both operator and product protection. The MC DecJet® micronizing and containment range (from MC DecJet® 30 to 400) is the perfect union of Dec’s years of experience as users and providers of micronizing and containment technologies.

Extensive in-house testing facilities have allowed Dec to test both nontoxic compounds using standard open-range jet mill systems as well as highly toxic compounds with its state-of-the-art high containment micronizing isolation system with fully automated control, gravimetric feeding and a dedicated air handling system that is capable of achieving specific temperatures and relative humidity requirements.


PTS: the Swiss Original Powder Transfer System

As a specialist in powder handling, Dec’s registered technology PTS Powder Transfer System® challenges conventional processes by using both vacuum and pressure to move powders as if they were liquids. This eliminates the need for gravity charging and makes multi-floor processes a thing of the past. While there are many vacuum conveyors on the market, Dec’s system is unrivalled due to its unique filtration concept with a flat filter membrane that makes it the only vacuum dense-phase system available that functions at optimum levels during each cycle, differentiating it from the run-of-the-mill systems on the market.

“Thanks to this development, we have been able to grow from the chemical industry to the pharmaceutical sector as PTS allows mixing, dosing and sampling. It allows diverse filling methods as we have improved the system to handle large or small powder quantities,” explains Frederic Dietrich, CEO of Dec.

The PTS is ideal for transferring highly explosive powders and toxic and hygroscopic materials.  One of its major advantages is that it separates the air from the powder, keeping the receiving vessel inert during the charging operation. This makes it possible to safely charge powder into a reactor that contains solvents or is pressurized without risking explosions.

As a solution for the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and cosmetics industries, PTS encompasses a wide range of applications:

  • Standard and high containment filling and discharging: PTS provides a safe solution for filling or emptying big bags and drums.
  • Small quantity dosing: Accurate and repetitive volumetric dosing of small quantities of powder ranging from 1mg to 100g.
  • Single and multiple reactor charging: Safe reliable vessel charging as the oxygen is removed from the powder before entering into the process.
  • Blending: PTS Batchmixer® for fully contained homogeneous powder blending.
  • Filling and packaging facilities: Supported by the Continuous Liner System for optimized GMP compliant packaging, the PTS and the DosiValve® system allow for any equipment discharging and precise dosing into drums and containers.



“Dec’s work begins at laboratories, especially with ingredient mixing, which is normally done through sophisticated machines,” says Dietrich. “It is here where we try to propose a higher industrialization of facilities by introducing our technology, which is targeted to improve efficiency and safety.”

The sophistication and complexity of mixing powders depends on the cohesiveness of the materials, the differences in bulk density and particle size and the selection of an appropriate mixer. Thus, achieving a satisfying balance between mixing rate and segregation might be a significant challenge.

As a result, Dec has developed PTS Batchmixer® based on groundbreaking PTS technology to mix powders in a fully contained way without using any rotating or moving parts. Dec’s solutions can be classified according to the mixing mechanism:

  • Diffusive mixing, which occurs when particles roll down a sloping surface.
  • Shear mixing, which occurs when slip zones are established in a powder.
  • Convective mixing, which occurs when circulation patterns are set up inside a bulk powder mass.


Dec’s Industry Reach

Dec’s divisions enable the company to deliver complex solutions. The first division, technology, allows the company to “develop unique products that respond to advanced needs,” says Dietrich. The second division is engineering, which allows Dec to integrate different technologies into a project. “We do not just sell a machine; we sell a solution,” says Dietrich. The third division is consulting, in which Dec advises customers and communicates its new solutions. The final division is services to offer global customer field support that ensures operations run smoothly.

Dec’s customized solutions can be tailored to specific customer requirements in the chemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, food or special materials industries. Depending on the sector, Dec has introduced numerous solutions:

  • Chemicals

Fine chemicals, agrochemicals, specialty polymers, adhesives and dyes and pigments handling

  • Pharmaceutical APIs

Reactor charging, pack-off, dispensing, blending, sampling, micronization and contained bulk handling.

  • Pharmaceutical Secondary Manufacturing

Oral Solid Dosage (OSD), Orally Disintegrating Tablets (ODT), Intravenous Therapy (IV), Dry Powder Inhalers (DPI) and sterile manufacturing.

  • Food

cGMP compliant handling and processing systems.

  • Cosmetics

Powder handling, micronizing and blending.

  • Materials Processing

Batteries manufacturing, automotive industry, nuclear and explosive powders.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst